Unorganized industries and their contribution to economic growth in India hardly receive any recognition due to a lack of statistics and appropriate methods for gathering them. Despite making a major contribution to our GDP, unorganized labourers are extremely vulnerable to labour rights violations since they lack adequate documentation. Some of the most frequent problems that an unorganized worker encounters include absurdly long working hours, job insecurity, lack of implementation of labour law provisions, dangerous working and living circumstances, and so forth.1
Child labour refers to exploiting children by giving them any form of work that overshadows or deprives them of their education or childhood. It can be detrimental to a child’s physical, mental, moral, and social development.2 On the other hand, unorganized labour can be understood as those employees who have been unable to band together to further their shared interests because of obstacles like ignorance and illiteracy, the ad hoc nature of their job, the small and dispersed nature of businesses, etc.3
Legal Provisions Related To Child Labour
The labour law-related provisions try to curtail the exploitation of children by employers in India. As per the “Child and Adolescent Labor (Prohibition and Regulation), Act 1986”, which was amended in 2016, any person under the age of 14 is considered a child, and child labour is a way of exploitation of these children by subjecting them to work that robs them of their childhood, dignity, and potential and damages them physically and mentally. Such work should be of a nature that interferes with their education, requires them to leave school early, or pushes them to work long hours while attending school.
As per Article 24 of the Constitution of India, no child who is below the age of fourteen years can be employed to work in a mine or factory. Further, such a child is not permitted to be engaged in any hazardous employment. The concept of child labour has been categorized by the Indian government into two groups. The first category is that of “Main workers” which includes children involved in labour for 6 months or more per year. The second category is that of “Marginal workers”.4
Article 21(A) of the Indian Constitution mandates free and compulsory education for all children who fall within the age group of six to fourteen years. Further, Article 24 prohibits the employment of children below the age of fourteen years in dangerous factories which may cause them physical as well as long-term mental damage. According to Article 51 of the Constitution, which is a part of the Directive Principles of State Policy, everyone, including parents and guardians, has a fundamental duty to give their children, who are between the ages of 6 and 14, the opportunity to pursue an education. Article 45 of the Constitution states that it is the duty of the State to ensure that all children until they complete the age of fourteen years, get free and compulsory education.5
In addition to the provisions mentioned in the Constitution of India, there are several labour law legislations enacted by the government of India to uphold labour rights. Under the Factories Act, of 1948, no child under the age of 14 may work in a factory. This act also made it explicit who, when, and for what duration teenagers between the ages of 15 and 18 may work in factories.
The Mines Act, of 1952 forbade children under the age of 18 from working in mines. Furthermore, the Child and Adolescent Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 986 prohibits the act of making any child below the age of 14 years from working. It further specifies that children between the age of 14-18 are allowed to work but not in hazardous activities such as mining.6
Filing A Complaint Against An Entity Involved In Child Labour
There are various ways sanctioned by law through which one can file a complaint against an entity that indulges in child labour practices that are against labour law and constitutional law provisions.
Firstly, a toll-free service helpline is available at the “1098” number throughout India. The “Childline India Foundation”, which promotes children's rights and their safety, is the organization that runs it. Anyone can contact this number and provide information when needed, including children themselves.
In addition to this, the “State Commission for Protection of Child Rights” can also be approached in case a complaint relating to the violation of the labour rights of children needs to be filed.
One can also take recourse to the online medium by filing an online complaint under the “Child Labour Section”, with the “Ministry of Labour and Employment”.
The authorities at police stations ask a complainant to register an FIR when he or she goes to the police station to complain about an instance of child labour. In such a case, the complainant must disclose all the details regarding the child labour incident that was witnessed.
A complaint can also be posted to the “National Commission for Protection of Child Rights” in any language and there are no fees that will be charged for the same. The postal address for sending such a complaint is, “Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, 5th Floor, Chanderlok Building, 36, Janpath, New Delhi – 110 001”.7
Legal Provisions Related to Unorganized Labourers
In 2008, the “Unorganized Workers Social Security Act” was enacted by the government so that social security could be provided to unorganized labourers. Subsequently, in 2009, the Government of India established the “National Social Security Board for Unorganized Workers”. Following independence, the Indian Constitution included various social security clauses as the “Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP)”.
The following are the major rights of unorganised workers, as mentioned in the Indian Constitution:
Article 19 (1)(g): The fundamental right to practise any profession, occupation, trade or business.
Article 19(1)(c): Freedom to form an association or union. Article 23: Freedom from forced labour.
Article 24: Ban child labour in any hazardous occupation for anyone under the age of 14.
Article 38 (2): The State must minimise inequalities in income, status, facilities and opportunities among individuals.
Article 39(d): The State must provide equal pay for equal work for all.
Article 39(e): The health and strength of workers must not be exploited or abused for work.
Article 42: Workers must be given just and human conditions of work. This includes the provision of sick leaves and maternity benefits.
Article 43: The State must also ensure that workers are given a living wage and their working conditions must ascertain a decent standard of living.
Furthermore, according to Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, the government must identify instances of bonded labour and make every effort to thoroughly rehabilitate the workers so that their labour rights are not violated. In accordance with the DPSP, the State Government must accord bonded labourers the fundamental rights of humanity, and failing to do so will be a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution.8 It is specifically stated in the Industrial Disputes Act of 1947 what constitutes unfair labour practices on the part of employees. Unfair labour practices are listed in the Act's Fifth Schedule. Employers and employers' trade unions carry them out. Additionally, it includes unfair labour tactics by workers and worker unions.9
The “National Social Security Board” is established by the Union Government, with the Union Minister for Labour and Employment serving as Chair. Other members appointed by the Union Government include an eminent member of civil society, two members of the House of the People, one member of the Rajya Sabha, and five members each representing ministries from the Central and State Governments. The State Government at the state level is empowered to constitute the Social Security Board for the objective of proper implementation of the “Unorganized Workers Social Security Act” of 2008. This act is one of the later developments in the Indian labour law legislation. The composition and functions of State Social Security are the same as the National Social Security Board.
The Act also calls for the establishment of "Workers Facilitation Centers" by the State Governments to aid in the registration of unorganized workers, provide information about social security programs, and facilitate the enrollment of those workers in social security programs. However, the Act does not specify at what level these workers’ facilitation centres are to be established. The Act's Section 3 stipulates in subsection 1 that the Union Government and State Government shall periodically develop plans for old age protection, health and maternity assistance, life and disability insurance, and any other benefit that the Central Government may decide to announce. Schedule 1 of the act enumerates the social security schemes. 10
Filing a Complaint against an Entity involved in Unfair Labour Practices
Firstly, a complaint for labour rights violation can be filed with the “Ministry of Labour and Employment”. Its website provides the specifications for lodging a complaint. 11
Additionally, a complaint can also be filed in the form of a suit at a labour court in India. The top Labour Court in India can be used to contact the labour commissioner in instances of unpaid wages. The labour commissioner will subsequently be expected to work to resolve the issue. In case of reconciliation is not possible, the matter may be submitted to the appropriate court.
An employee may also file a lawsuit under Section 33(c) of the Industrial Dispute Act, 1947, so that money owed to them from their employer can be collected. The employee, any person authorized by him, or his legal heirs may submit a claim for money recovery on the employee's behalf.12
Reasons for Payment of Low Wages to Unorganized Workers
Poverty and debt are among the primary reasons for the payment of low wages and the violation of the labour rights of unorganized workers. Employees in the unorganized market are unable to meet their fundamental requirements and other social and cultural duties due to poor earnings and uncertain positions.
The lack of enforcement of social security measures and labour law provisions is another reason for the payment of low wages. Additionally, lack of awareness regarding Trade Unions and Labour Unions is another relevant reason.
On a concluding note, the laws relating to the prohibition of child labour are well-enshrined through various legislative measures. Also, the labour rights of unorganized labourers receive legal backing. However, the enforcement of laws needs to be made strict so that the exploitation of workers reduces in India.
Despite India’s comprehensive and progressive labour laws, instances of child labour and exploitation of unorganised workers remain prevalent in several parts of the country. There is a need for better vigilance and implementation of the existing laws as well as judicial precedents to create a sustainable labour welfare system and protect the rights of such workers.13
However, the Central government’s new laws on labour took effect on July 1st, 2022. This means there will be huge transformations in all sectors and industries and how we’re accustomed to working. For example, the rules governing working hours for employees and the provisional fund to the salary structure and provident fund.
Key Points of New Labour Laws and Employment in India 202214
The employees will have permission to take three weeks off
They must be on the job for a period that is not longer than 48hrs. Those who work eight hours daily will only have one week of vacation
Individuals who work 12 hours per day within an organisation will grant three weeks of vacation. Also, those who are working 9 hours per day will get two weeks off
The new labour codes will result in a total modification to the complete and final rules
Professionals who leave the country must be dealt with. The final settlement is done within 2 days from the date of departure from the business
Female employees will be able to benefit from the increase in their maternity leave to 26 weeks. Employers must obtain approval from female employees to work the night shift
Security and facilities must be in good order to be guaranteed to the female employees of the organisation
The structure of pay will be different according to the changes made
The element of the basic salary will get an increment, and the provision fund calculations based on the basic salary will get a raise as well
This means that the provisional employee fund will increase while the salary paid in cash will likely decrease
- After adopting the code, workers will grant vacation each 180 days instead of 244 days as per the previous rules. In India, the full and final payment is due within 45 days of the end of an organisation.
23 states, including Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Manipur, Bihar, and UT of Jammu and Kashmir, have framed regulations under the new labour laws. The new Labour Codes constitute welfare laws that seek to ensure workers’ welfare at the company’s cost. It is still to be determined how other state governments will go in the same way and make adjustments to add extra balance between the employer and employees.
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